Saturday, 13 February 2016

Racing The Chooks To Your Door

The beginning of last year Melbourne's Chook Race finally brought out their debut record, the aptly spun About Time. I really liked it - it had the right mix of The Clean, Electrelane, Eddy Current Suppression Ring and Dick Diver coursing through its veins. Well the trio aren't sitting on their laurels this time around - they have linked with the excellent Tenth Court Records (Wireheads, Thigh Master, Mope City) for their follow-up Around The House later this year. The first taste of it is 'At Your Door' - not really a Paul Kelly nod, but there are some similarities when you consider the lyrics - the plaintive Aussie blue-collar Romanticism of grafting out your own patch, from the ground up. The difference here is the wistfulness is palpable - this house built out of wood and clay may be a short-lived Valhalla, if not a perennial pipe dream. The ramshackle nature of Chook Race's delivery makes things feel loose and carefree, but that just helps to further underscore the melancholy shadow underneath. Australia has this bright spark instrumentation/maudlin content delivery down pat - I think it's a good thing, it's dry, it's unsentimental. Can't wait to see what else is dredged up around the house.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Scraped Misery

Jesus, I am falling further and further into the scuzz punk sewers aren’t I? Today it’s the industrial rabies bite of Misery, the new record from San Franciscans Scraper. It's produced by Chris Woodhouse, more known for Bay Area garage rock like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall, but it’s his Blind Shake repertoire that inflects throughout this cesspit of an album. You see, Scraper hates everyone around them, even themselves, as the brilliant title track espouses. Meanwhile there are tracks like ‘Blue Velvet’ – Pissed Jeans in embryonic devolution. When there is such vitriolic self-loathing, how else would you expect them to look out from under their own abuse at all the other fuckers breathing all the precious air. Guttural punk bilge pumps, Scraper are saving all the black detritus of the human condition for your last supper – bon appetit. Misery is another Slovenly pus capsule - ingest here at your peril.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Pocket Croc Manateees

When you hear the name Manateees, what do you think of? I think either of Animal Collective when they were truly bizarre and inventive (and at time indecipherable and unlistenable) or Rick & Morty for some reason – the drawn out e’s should be uttered with maniacal glee. Because listen to Memphis punks Manateees, there is nothing off the table – instead its been plunged in a gravel & spit mixer and vomited on a graffiti-marred wall in garish, visceral colours. Case in point – their new release, Croc N My Pocket. You can see the impressions of Jack Oblivian’s fingerprints on this dissonant gems, but Manateees are adept at breaking their own rules without rough royal help, thank you very much. ‘Under The Gun’ is the perfect bitter cyanide pill impossible not to swallow, but everything here is some shade of golden – especially love the grinding, gurning and mating with prog metal interlude ‘River Of Death,’ the death dirge 'Witch', and the galloping rock and low-down whistles (and jaw harp?) of ‘On The Run’. I think Croc N My Pocket isn’t as depraved as, say, Soupcans (who we spoke about earlier this week), or as abrasive as Wet Ones (another band mentioned recently), but Manateees have their own bent brand to bear that is infectious and infecting. They are all kinds of insane, and therefore all kinds of awesome. Grab Croc N My Pocket through 12XU here.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Half Kiss, Half Pain, All Callas

I stumbled across Greek avant punk rock outfit The Callas two years ago through their excellent 2013 album Am I Vertical? They are back, again joining with Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman) for Half Kiss Half Pain. The first taste off it, ‘It’s Sunday I’m Bleeding’, has a decidedly hazy Sonic Youth hue to it, melancholy morning comedown lyrics – so far, so good. Am I Vertical? was a surprise in that it jumped all over the place from its spiked post-punk foundation – I am expecting that Half Kiss Half Pain will be the same; the hooks here are plentiful.

Pre-order the album through Inner Ear Records here. NB - since writing this the band has released the album - here are a couple other cuts from it, 'La Jalousie', 'The Great Eastern' (also the name of a film they are making with Lee Ranaldo) and 'River.Drool.Ear.Rope'.

No One Deserves The Body

Surprise surprise, The Body are back and as cheerless and dire as ever. You thought I Shall Die Here was the nadir of their nihilistic loathing? Their new album, out on Thrill Jockey next month, is called No One Deserves Happiness. And judging their work alongside Thou and Wrekmeister Harmonies, it’s more than likely that the duo will push the black envelope further out into the void (they are quoted as saying they want this record to be the grossest pop album of all time). ‘Shelter Is Illusory’ shows off their new tangent in all its misery-inducing glory – the synthetic handclaps, the soaring production, the calibrated, pummelling drums. It feels windswept, a dark chasm with smoke machines and a toga-flailing Syren calling forlornly across eternity. Finding new ways to hate and self-flagellate.

The Body are hitting Europe in April, see below for details (London’s show is at Electric Brixton on the 13th - with Converge no less! Get tix here).

06. 04. 2016 - Vera, Groningen, Netherlands *
07. 04. 2016 - Magasin 4, Brussels, Belgium *
08. 04. 2016 - Het Bos, Antwerp, Belgium *
09. 04. 2016 - Ritual fest @ Canal Mills, Leeds, UK ** 
10. 04. 2016 - Audio, Glasgow, UK * 
11. 04. 2016 - The Rainbow Cellar, Birmingham, UK * 
12. 04. 2016 - The Ruby Lounge, Manchester, UK * 
13. 04. 2016 - Electric Brixton, London ^ 
14. 04. 2016 - Roadburn Festival, Utrecht, Netherlands ^^ 
16. 04. 2016 - KB18, Copenhagen, Denmark *
17. 04. 2016 - Kantine Am Berghain, Berlin, Germany *
18. 04. 2016 - Klub 007, Prague, Czech Republic *
19. 04. 2016 - Feierwerk, Munich, Germany *
20. 04. 2016 - Jubez, Karlsruhe, Germany *
21. 04. 2016 - Gaswerk, Winterthur, Switzerland *
23. 04. 2016 - Sidecar, Barcelona, Spain *
24. 04. 2016 - Moby Dick, Madrid, Spain * 
25. 04. 2016 - Musicbox, Lisbon, Portugal *
26. 04. 2016 - Cave 45, Porto, Portugal *
27. 04. 2016 - Santana 27, Bilbao, Spain *
28. 04. 2016 - Le Saint Des Seins, Toulouse, France *
29. 04. 2016 - La Mecanique Ondulatoire, Paris, France *
30. 04. 2016 - Tivoli De Helling, Utrecht, Netherlands *

* Full of Hell (co-headline)
** Conan, 40 Watt Sun, Full of Hell
^ Converge/Bloodmoon, Full of Hell, 40 Watt Sun
^^ Converge, Cult of Luna, Paradise Lost, Full of Hell

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

A Soft Party Needs Hard Soupcans

The past couple weeks I’ve gone from wistful guitar pop to sandpaper-to-the-face punk based on a bevy of acrid releases by the likes of Wet Ones and Chrome Cranks. Prepare to up the ante then, as I have just gotten my fetid paws on Soft Party, the misanthropic noise record from Toronto’s Soupcans. Going from breakneck speed punk (‘Razor Face’, ‘Crimes 1’) to Cro-Magnon thump and run (‘Psychosomatic Rash’) the album has everything. There are touchstones to The Bronx (‘DOB’) and Pissed Jeans (‘Nice Nife’, ‘Soft Party’ – my favourite tracks here), but Soft Party is as relentless as they come, covering the gamut of anguish and anger with every diseased and distorted aesthetic they can get their grubby lips around. A couple of sub-minute thrash punk tracks here, some doom’n’dirge there – you will only find Soupcans inhabiting the lowest forms, devolving even as they evolve, living off the detritus of the human condition. It’s great.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Contemporary Beats Leave Temporary Marks

Parisian garage rockers Beat Mark are back with Contemporary Is Temporary (out through Azbin Records). It is a fun ride, starting from the hard-edged fuzz that imbues the addictive 'Acid Faces' through to the loud garage psych growl of 'Teenage Fever' and the rock roar of the title track. It's been a half decade since their Howls Of Joy record, and while the band certainly haven't been idle, it's great to hear such a febrile, punchy effort come out. The entwining, echoed vocals that spiral over the contemplative jangled drawl of closer 'Together' is so warm and inviting, you will wish that Beat Mark wrote your daily theme tunes. I would love to have them as my house band on the strength of this - contemporary may be temporary, but the Beat Mark aesthetic is everlasting. Grab Contemporary Is Temporary here.

Figures Taekare Of Themselves

Figures is a band from Brisbane that like their 90s guitar rock to be sparse yet dark, ruminative but destructive, maudlin yet cleansing. There are checkpoints across their three tracks on their Taekare EP (recorded at Incremental Records) that evokes Dinosaur Jr, Pedro The Lion (especially in the quieter moments of 'Figure Eight'), Sonic Youth...and another band enamoured with the blanket-bomb noise of shoegaze, Melbourne legends White Walls. I seem hardwired to dig bands that take the shoegaze noise aesthetic and give it a brittle edge, stripping away the dreaminess, even the dreariness, to lend it fire. Swervedriver had moments like this, to be far, but it seems like it's the younger bands that have found that serrating the fuzz and distortion gives new shadows to lurk in and burst out of. It's early days to be sure, but Figures look the goods.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Hits From The Box #122 - Flu Birthdays

Spending my birthday week bunged up, choking down pints and cigarettes with little regard to recovery. This Sunday I am suffering for it. Music goes a long way to being a salve...

Let's start out in Chicago with duo Earring, whose album Tunn Star will be out through the ever-excellent Fire Talk later in the year. This single, 'Black Chalk', has been my jam today in my fugue state. A garage psych dirge that nevertheless exudes a feverish energy pulsing from within, the track only goes for 2:25 but feels as if it is designed to crash on forever, a thick fuzzball of amiable destruction on a collision course with infinity. So great.

DZ Tapes are releasing Schroedinger's Cat's Grave, a weirdnik garage punk album from Washington trio Nice Breeze. It reminds me of a narcoleptic Hussy; a bargain-bin bare-bones Cramps bred on sugar-coated cereal and Altered Beast; a grimy Yo La Tengo cover band - and that is all in the first three songs. There are so many fringes of recognition throughout - such as Iggy, Lou, Bob Mould...yet it never feels like a pastiche - it is very much a capsule of a singular warped vision. They are an intriguing proposition - the album feels much older than it is, as if recorded in Rob Pollard's Cleveland kitchen in 1993.

TAFEWRM is the electronic offspring of You Beauty guitarist Joshua Phuah, and it is a haunting effort. 'ASL' has the evocative guitar lines, the warbled effects that muffle and discombobulate the tinned drum machine, and a dishevelled reverbed vocal wavering over the top, the lyrics indiscernible. It's a dubbed-out mess, the kind of song you would hear in a softcore downward spiral into Kings Cross agony/ecstasy, hues of varying luscious black velvet, red velvet, purple fluorescent. Weirdly decadent, 'ASL' is something I want to hear more of.

New York's Say No! To Architecture has been around the traps, in and out of the shadows, for a number of years now, but is unearthing a double LP of past and present jams. These bedroom ruminations swing from the bathetic Krautrock of 'Wieder's Floor' and the warehouse-cavern echo drawl of 'Bullet Proof Liquor Store MD' to the tinny psych pop whirl of 'Usses and Them' dark clattering cacophony of 'Cocaine Eh'. It's an excellent release that deserves heaped praise - the psych drone out closer of 'Fall In Love At Tape Mountain' is enthralling enough to drag you back time and again into this hypnotic wormhole of a record.

Precious Metal is another guise for Tom Crandles, Sydney wanderer of Colours and Au.Ra. It's an electronic ambient drone that coalesces around the grey tendrils of nighttime melancholia and narcotic come-downs, feeling arctic and wind-blasted before an insidious beat builds halfway through the mix to get the nodding head back up, glazed eyes taking focus. The slight rise of noise at the end isn't cathartic though - more of a hint to more to come. This could easily be a Not Not Fun mainstay - will be interesting to see how far Crandles pushes this.

And we finish off in the Netherlands with the otherworldly garage pop of Eerie Wanda. The four-piece are releasing new album Hum in a couple weeks (out on the great Beyond Beyond Is beyond label no less), and it's a beguiling listen - deliberately controlled tempo, barely racing past a canter, delivered in a sonorous shroud as if from behind a mystical mist. It has the off-kilter ragged shuffle of Beat Happening alongside the ghostly afterprint of a Lynchian parlour band - hard to put down the strange energy permeating this band, but the result is captivating. Pre-order Hum here to get a blue spattered vinyl copy.

Happy Sunday everyone!

Spacek-Out Paranoia

It seems to be every week that I am discovering a new band in London - which makes sense seeing as it is over 7 million people's worth of working, rutting, fucking and dying going on. And right now I have been all over Ulrika Spacek, a five-piece with a heavy predilection for Spacemen 3 sonorous ephemera and walls of noise threaded with a nonchalant curiosity for the darker spaces, content to whir and march into the outer reaches and beyond. Space psychedelic rock this might be, but the band take pains to earth themselves (pun intended) by imbuing their lethargic motorik drones with harder edges - a BRMC riff here, a Viet Cong layer of echoed menace there. Everything seems crafted out of a gravitational pull, a kneejerk hypnosis, but is also heavily calibrated and maintained. The lyrics that halt the inexorable trudge of 'Beta Male' for example give us a lilting esoteric moment of respite before launching back out in the stratosphere, meaning that grooves aren't inherent, that bliss isn't constant, that they are always in control.

They released their debut album The Album Paranoia on Friday (through Tough Love, on white vinyl - impressive package, you can get it here) and will be touring it over the next couple weeks, check em out:

08 Glasgow, Hug and Pint 
09 Birmingham, Hare and Hounds 
10 Bristol, Start the Bus 
11 London, Rough Trade East 
16 Manchester, Soup Kitchen 
17 Liverpool, Studio 2

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Whitney Houston's Hatoful Boyfriend

A new abrasive cut out of Vacant Valley, we have the heaving, howling noise of Whitney Houston's Crypt. 'Hatoful Boyfriend' is terrifying in its blood-curdling, wraith-conjuring madness, banshee wails ripping the vocal cords, the rhythm ripped from the core of your soul, a marching dirge to a scum-stained end. If this EP is going to follow in these footsteps, we might have a new Necronomicon - in 7" form

Absence Of Heligator Amulets Beneath The Surface

Austin's regular drone collector Randall Taylor operates under the mystical moniker Amulets, and continues to be beautifully prolific. After digging his Knowing Your America effort last year, I'm wasting no time diving into three more of his releases.

Firstly is his contribution to the charity label Heligator Records. 'Sierra Highs' is a continuation of what I fell in love with on Know Your America, amplified tenfold. The subtleties inherent in the weaving of his looped guitar magic is never more obvious yet breathtaking here - the hiss and echo of found sound, sounding like an aerosol can, the caught hiss of a out of sync radio station, the clack of a rhythmic passing of a train, a crack of a falling tree limb - the sounds are cavernous and nebulous, becoming what you want to hear. But the chiming guitar notes enthral, taking us to higher realms, to Sigur Ros levels of Nordic euphoria. Indeed there are touchstones of Austin's own Explosions In The Sky in the slow rise of distorted guitar wash, a tide that comes back and forth, hooking into your soul and never letting go. Try not to have a goofy, totally relaxed grin at the end of this song. Brilliant.

Then there is the split he has done with Braeyden Jae (out now on Horror Fiction Records). It is a vehicle for both artists to meld their mystical sheets of sound to mesh together, crafting a wavering ambient soundscape that is imbued with anguish, longing, loss, regret and glimmers of redemption, of hope. How looped manipulation and crackling and popping speakers can emulate such ebbs and flows of emotion seems impossible - but then you haven't heard this yet. Do so right now.

Finally there is Beneath The Surface, his solo effort out through Never Anything and Tereshkova Records. It perfectly encapsulates the swirling mantras and shifting vistas that Taylor carves out of the sonic air, an alchemist of incremental loops and sweeping mirages, floating in and around you while remaining just out of reach. In fact, this record is so cyclical that I have heard the cassette player click over sides maybe five times now and have no inclination to get up and stop it - let Beneath The Surface play out ad infinitum until the replay feature burns out (which, seeing as this Sherwood is twenty year old, may not be that long - let's try it out...) There are only 4 cassette copies left on the Amulets website, so have at it!

He has plans to put out his first release on vinyl this year too, so 2016 is all about Amulets. Get lost in the glow.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Pink, Naked Nihilism

Hobart off-kilter punks Naked have crafted an oddly mesmeric record (on Tenth Court Records) in Pink Quartz, a hard-edged suburban gnashing of teeth. It goes from the impassioned growls and howls of 'Boys In Blue (All Ye Faithful)' to the bristling sparse early Bluebottle Kiss rock of 'Critical Half-Arsed' and the brooding maelstrom 'This Charming Man'. There is a wiry brutalism at work here, at times cathartic, at others bottomless, never content or still yet never offputting - Pink Quartz exists perfectly in its own atonal, shuddering world. The lyrics swing from angry to wry, sometimes moaned, sometimes strangled out (with lashes of humour throughout - the closer 'Paul Walker Overture' in its entirety, like Tyvek playing at being Hank Williams before slipping into Sleep doom). The perfect example of the wonderful weirdness is 'Sprinters Of The World Unite', a day in the life of a delinquent, starting with a dead dog and containing hurled bricks, stolen pizzas, beach arrests, birds catching worms and low-security prison. The vocals is a monotone singsong, punctured at one stage with imploding violin by Sewers' Josh Watson. It's its own thing - go with it.

What do you do with something as unwieldy as Pink Quartz? Chew it up, swallow it down, and through bloodstained lips ask for seconds. Grab this excellent record here.

Tigue Peaks

Brooklyn percussive heathens TIGUE have released an amazing record in the form of Peaks, a hypnotic gem of instrumental wormholes to lose yourself in. None of the tracks spiral out into gargantuan length, all reveling in their precise constructions - mini worlds fully formed. Helping to craft these mesmeric gems are the likes of Kid Millions (Oneida), Ira Kaplan and James McNew (Yo La Tengo), Shahin Motia (Ex Models) and Mike Turzanski, and the result is something of droning, immersive excellence, a heady chrysalis of unfettered rhythm that leaves you revitalized, reborn. Highly recommended stuff. Pick up Peaks here.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

No Limits to Jack Lee (And Petersham)

Jack Lee has done it again.

Stepping out of Beef Jerk to do things on his own once more, Lee's record No Limits (out through Osborne Again) is a bruised and battered slab of broken thoughts, moods, dreams, gaffer-taped together to punish and revere. 'Slip On Piss', the opening track, is killer - a dour diatribe on the shitty "adult situations I keep gettin' in". Lee's lip curled, lyrics drawled/spat, pummelling, feeling like shit. It's a self-loathing backwater dirge of brilliance. Of course the album doesn't hold an even keel, going through wonky pop dreams and broken ruminations of getting stuck in Sydney and ukelele/karaoke sessions in Mullumbimby, dog parks, bottle shops, footy and crates of beer, all centred around the suburb of Petersham. It has the downer vocal/lyrical power of Kitchens Floor, the dry spoken-word wit of James Boyd or Nathan Roche (who makes an appearance on 'Sagres'), the wry loquaciousness of  Dag (whose Dusty Anastassiou also pops in to co-write and "star" in the excellent 'Stuck In Sydney'). It has the ramshackle energy of the best hardscrabble bands coming out of Australia like cockroaches abandoning a fiery building. The best parts of Australian outlier downhearted rock then. I love this record. Grab No Limits here.

Towel Down With Wet Ones

It's my birthday today. Jesus. Gettin' old dude. I'm not gonna cry about it though - that's what Wet Ones are for. The irascible Kansas band have released their eponymous record through Slovenly, and it is the right mix of gleefully destructive scuzzed out punk. From the Pissed Jeans snot sneer of 'Waaah Waaah Waaah' right through to the ear-bleeding sworl of 'Gimme Suction' (and the rat-lovin' cover art), there is no let up, no pretension, all red-line rock destroying minds and souls. There is even a harmonic outro to the album to lend some Depression-era pathos to proceedings...yep, it makes no sense, something like a funeral pyre call. The count in on 'Simulator' is one two fuck you. Yep, Wet Ones slay, propulsive mayhem to blast this birthday into gear. Grab the LP here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Pleasant Pinemen

Luke Reilly keeps rolling on with his Swedish invasion through his PNKSLM Records. The latest band to suffer PNKSLM Stockholm Syndrome is Pinemen, who released their Pleasant Pain EP through the label at the turn of 2015. Slices of hook-embedded hazed garage psych - imagine Goodbye Bread era Ty Segall living in the Woods - Pinemen are a band that would be right at home lost in the Bay Area. It warms the cockles, a necessity in the tail end of this miserable winter. Even when they hit the psych blaze trail on 'Praise Yourself', it is done with a warm fuzz. Nice work guys. Grab Pleasant Pain here.

Show Me The Body War

NYC noise units (with added banjo!?!?) Show Me The Body have just released this manic video for their track 'Body War', a display of body slamming and manipulation that is a sight to behold. Add that to the band's killer crunch and you have a brilliant music video, one that I cannot stop watching. These guys are one of the most exciting acts on the planet right now, and they are going to prove that to UK audiences starting this weekend. Get down to their show at DIY Space Feb 9 - it promises to shatter and rebuild your will to live.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Trapping Three Tigers In A Holiday Inn

Squishing two posts into one here. First up we have the return of London harsh experimental trio Three Trapped Tigers. Fans of the likes of Battles, Errors, even My Disco might find something to indulge in with these guys' esoteric, punishing yet energising instrumental music. It is hard to believe it has been FIVE YEARS since they brought out Route One Or Die, an album that we reviewed in March 2011 (oh those days...) and loved, but title track 'Silent Earthling' sees a heady return to form. they will be touring the album at the end of April, with a Scala date on the 28th. Welcome back, boys.

Similarly in the electronic noise department is Italian synth punk guerrillas Holiday Inn (the name = perfect subterfuge). The self-titled 7" has been released on Rave Up Records, and committing unrelenting industrial (S)uicide over the disco landscape, destructively diffident, a nonchalant nihilism permeating the metallic scree. Frankly, it's cleansing my mind and making my day.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Feeding On Ian's Ritualistic Figbox Feast

I have mentioned the Florida noise collective Figbox in the past (namely Unholy Clone) and am a big fan of Prison Warder. It looks to be a big, busy, noisy year for them, the first taste of which is Feast For The Supreme Ritual, the second EP by drum and bass duo Ian Iachimoe (a bizarre reference to Paul McCartney, and which features Prison Warder's singer). A bristling set of live tracks charting the (un)natural path of gluttony and body horror, Feast... is fitful, brash, as at home nestling under the sweat-stained mask of Lightning Bolt as they are bludgeoning Swans, beckoning the apocalyptic winds of OM and bowing at the altar of Ornette Coleman. Digging this, looking forward to what else comes out of the Figbox.